Hot Stove #165 – Roller-Coaster Royals, Father’s Day and Cookie Rojas

This morning, the post office is issuing a new stamp featuring Yogi Berra. Bob Costas will be on hand for the First Day of Issue event being held at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, New Jersey. Berra died in 2015, but he left a Yogi-ism for the occasion: “I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.”

All-Star Baseball Player Yogi Berra Forever Stamp

 Roller-Coaster Royals: Rita and I have attended three Royals games this year. The weather at those games has ranged from cold to moderate to hot. The opposite of how the Royals season has progressed.

Our first game was on April 19. The temperature was 37 degrees (wind at 18 mph). Although the Royals lost that night, they were otherwise hot in April and ended the month with the second best record in the majors (15-9).

In May, the Royals had an 11-game losing streak, but rebounded enough to close out the month at .500 (26-26).

Rita and I returned to Kauffman on June 1. It was a pleasant 72 degrees, and the Royals won. Then they won their next two to get to 29-26.

The weather got warmer. The Royals did not, losing 11 of their next 12 games. We attended one game during that losing streak. June 14. Game time temperature – 93 degrees. The Royals put 18 men on base. Scored three of them, losing 10-3 to Detroit.

But we had good seats (thank you Steve Jagoda). In the TV screenshot below, moving left from the umpire’s head (and just behind the two blond Tiger fans), you will see me, Randy Nay, Beth Nay (obscured) and Rita (hat tipped up). Bonus sighting: A few rows up above Salvy are our friends Cynthia Wendt (blue top) and Steve Fehr (white top). The Royals also lost to Detroit the next two days, lowering their season record to 30-37.

So how did Royals fans respond?  Impressively. The attendance for their next game (last Friday night) was 29,870, the biggest crowd this year (Royals photo below).


We watched on TV as the Royals won 5-3 behind Mondi and Salvy home runs. The trivia bonus for the night came in the 6th inning. Here is the play-by-play excerpt from Baseball Reference:

Danny Santana Ervin Santana 6% 74% Groundout: 1B unassisted

Royals reliever Ervin Santana was pitching to Boston’s Danny Santana who grounded out to the first baseman (1B). The Royals first baseman is Carlos Santana. Santana to Santana to Santana.

The attendance was likely boosted for the traditional Friday night fireworks (click here), but there were also good crowds for Saturday (24,568) and Sunday (20,726). To get a feel for a big Royals crowd, watch this cool video by the Royals photo guy Sam Lutz, taken while Whit Merrifield circled the bases after his home run on Sunday.

The Royals won two of three from a strong Boston team, and then went on the road to New York where they have split the first two games with the Yankees. Current record of 33-39.

It looks like Royals fans are in for a roller-coaster ride this season. [KC Roller Coaster Nostalgia: My first roller-coaster ride was in the 1950s at Fairyland Park on the Skyrocket (below).]

The Skyrocket is long gone, but not the Royals in 2021. Still 90 games to play. Keep the faith. And send out good vibrations for Mondesi’s return.

 Fairyland Park in Kansas City, Missouri

Father’s Day – Cookie Rojas: Rita and I did a four-generation Father’s Day at my son Brian’s home. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We were mostly outside watching the great-grandchildren frolic in the pool, but we stole glances at the game score as the Royals completed their series win over the Red Sox.

In other Father’s Day baseball news, Victor Rojas tweeted a message for his father Cookie Rojas: “Happy Father’s Day…Such a bad a$$.” Victor attached a 1988 video of Cookie, then the Angels manager, arguing with three umpires. Cookie said something so bad that all three umpires simultaneously ejected him (video here).

Manager Thrown Out By 3 Umpires At Same Time - YouTube

I sent the video to our friend Barbara Reres who has often told me that Cookie Rojas is her all-time favorite Royal. I’ll tell you why she feels that way, but first, some background on Cookie.

Rojas was born in Havana in 1939 and came to the U.S. in 1956 to play professional baseball. He worked his way through the minors and made it to the majors with Cincinnati in 1962. He moved to the Phillies where he was the regular second baseman from 1963 to 1969. He and shortstop Bobby Wine made for a superb double-play combination that the media and fans called “The Plays of Wine and Rojas,” after the song “The Days of Wine and Roses.”

 My Dad knows Cookie Rojas caught that ball – Phillies Nation

Cookie was traded to the Cardinals in 1970, but then was quickly dealt to the Royals. He was a perfect veteran match for an expansion team playing its second season. Cookie became a Royals Hall-of-Famer, playing from 1970 to 1977, the last two in a utility role when Frank White became the regular second baseman.

 The 100 Greatest Royals of All-Time - #29 Cookie Rojas - Royals Review

Now back to Barbara Reres. She worked in the Kansas City office of Senator Tom Eagleton. Part of constituent services was aiding non-citizens with their paperwork. Rojas had arrived from Cuba in 1956, three years before Castro took over. He asked the Eagleton office for help on his citizenship status. Cookie was so appreciative of their efforts that he showed up in person one day at the office to thank them. Barbara was at the front desk. It’s fair to say she was charmed.

In October of 1973, Rojas was sworn in as a U.S. citizen at the Federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. As reported in the Kansas City Times, Royals owner Ewing Kauffman was at the swearing-in and told Rojas that it was a great day for America to have Rojas become a citizen. “It’s great day for me too,” Rojas replied.

Cookie is now 82 and for the last 18 years has been the Miami Marlins’ Spanish-language television color commentator.

Perfect Father’s Day Game: I traded emails with Bill Wakefield this past Sunday to reminisce about a famous Father’s Day game. It was in 1964 and pitted Bill’s Mets against the Phillies. Of the four players who pitched in the game, two were perfect.

One was Jim Bunning of the Phillies. He faced 27 batters and none reached base. He had thrown a perfect game on Father’s Day.

[Cookie Rojas Trivia: Playing shortstop behind Bunning in the perfect game was Cookie Rojas.]

1964 Topps Giants #10 Jim Bunning | Trading Card Database | Baseball card  values, Phillies baseball, Phillies

Less remembered (except to devout Hot Stove readers) is that one of the Mets pitchers, Kansas City native Bill Wakefield, was also perfect that day. Working in relief, he got John Briggs to line out to left field to end the sixth inning. Briggs was the only batter Bill faced because he was lifted for a pinch hitter when the Mets came to bat.

[Jim Bunning Trivia: In 1967, Bunning gave up a deep drive to Hank Aaron of the Braves. It did not clear the fence, but Aaron circled the bases for the only inside-the-park home run among his 755. Trivia on Trivia: The Phillies second baseman that day was Cookie Rojas.]

Speaking of no-hitters…

The Royals have had four. The first two were by Steve Busby in 1973 and 1974. If you have not already guessed – the Royals second baseman in those games was Cookie Rojas. 1976 Topps Baseball Card #260 Steve Busby: Collectibles & Fine  Art

The Royals third no-hitter was by Jim Colborn in 1977. Frank White was at second base for the Royals. But wait. Cookie Rojas was at third. In his role as a utility player for the Royals, he was subbing for George Brett that day.

The Royals fourth no-hitter was by Bret Saberhagen in 1991. Cookie had been retired for 14 years by then.

None of the Royals no-hitters was a perfect game, although Busby came close in 1974 when he allowed only one runner, a walk in the second inning.

Speaking of perfect games…

Cartoonist Bob Thaves Tom Thaves  Frank and Ernest 2021-03-02 sport

Speaking of bowling…

 This is a good place to insert a fascinating video of a drone working its way through a bowling alley (click here; 1:28).

And I can’t mention bowling without giving a shout-out to the 1998 film The Big Lewbowksi.

The Dude abides: Revisiting the locations from The Big Lebowski, 20 years  on | The Independent | The Independent

A common marketing phrase for bowling establishments is “Let’s go bowling.” It’s put to good use in The Big Lebowski. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) constantly faces one challenge after another. His car is stolen, his friend dies, etc. His life is a mess. But when all else fails, his friend Walter (John Goodman) has the answer for helping the Dude regain his composure. “Dude, let’s go bowling.” Sometimes Walter embellishes (click here).

The BIG LEBOWSKI Dude Lets Go Bowling Quote | Etsy

Speaking (phonetically) of Bolling…

 I’m reminded of a clever political bumper sticker:


These were used in campaigns for Congressman Richard Bolling who represented Kansas City in the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years (1949-1983).

I could not find one of the bumper stickers in my files, so I contacted Hot Stove reader Ron Bodinson. Ron is the son of the late Larry Bodinson, the talented politico who ran Bolling’s KC office for over 30 years. Ron has a treasure trove of Bolling memorabilia, and he came through as shown above. Ron tells me that he and other campaign workers would ask people in parking lots if they could put a Bolling sticker on their bumper. He’s pretty sure that many of those who said yes thought it related to bowling.

In August of 1974, after Mike White won the Democratic primary for County Executive and I was elected Chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Committee, we worked with Congressman Bolling and his campaign supporters as part of the coordinated effort for the November general election. Below, a County Committee flyer from that campaign. All four of the depicted candidates won. Tom Eagleton for U.S. Senate, Bolling for the House, George Lehr for State Auditor and Mike for County Executive.

[County Executive Trivia: When Mike White was County Executive in 1977, he got a couple of tickets to a Royals game and asked me to go with him. On the morning of the game, he got sick, gave the tickets away and said we’d go another time. That night, Jim Coborn threw the third no-hitter in Royals history.]

40 Years Ago (June 12, 1981): Rita and I were married on June 6, 1981. Six days later, two big events occurred. One we liked. One we did not.

The bad news first. Major league baseball players went out on strike. It lasted for almost two months, the season resuming with the All-Star game on August 9 (a 40th birthday present for me).

June 22, 1981 - Sports Illustrated Vault |

The good news: Raiders of the Lost Ark was released. It’s on my Top Ten list of all-time favorites.

Lonnie’s Jukebox (1) – Broadway is Back!: Rita and I have for many years gone to New York for a long Memorial Day weekend. We usually see several Broadway shows, but Covid took that fun away in 2020 and 2021. We hope to get back sometime this fall to make up for lost time. We got a wonderful nudge to do so from Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda in this entertaining video (6:19).

 Lonnie’s Jukebox (2) – 1981 Edition: Some of the best music in 1981 came from two movies. I’ve already mentioned Raiders of the Lost Ark. The score by John Williams was nominated for an Academy Award, but the Oscar for best score went to Chariots of Fire (by Vangelis). Tough choice. Chariots also won best picture. I’ll get to those, but first let’s take a quick look at the pop charts for the year.

Click here for clips of the 17 #1 songs in 1981. There were two 9-to-5 songs in this mix, but with different messages. “9 To 5” by Dolly Parton and “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” by Sheena Easton. “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes has several versions on YouTube that have each been viewed millions of times.

A 1981 song that did not hit #1, but became a rock ‘n’ roll classic. “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones (peaked at #2).

Now back to the movies.

“Chariots of Fire (Theme)” by Vangelis who composed the score and plays all of the instruments, including synthesizers, acoustic piano, drums and percussion.


“Raiders of the Lost Ark (Theme)” by John Williams who composed the score and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for the movie soundtrack.

One More Bowling Moment: My dad Joe Shalton showing good form in 1962.